Monday, April 27, 2015

A kind of lull

Lull, the space between two busy times, today marks a kind of lull. Last week was iD fashion week in Dunedin, so lots to do with school, and shows and talks. At the same time both cubs schools held parent teacher nights, and at the same time I had a conference to attend. Next weekend is knit camp, at which i am teaching. Today feels like a lull, the quiet between.

I decided at the beginning of last week I needed a simple project, a sock or such a that I could just knit round and round. Squircle - was on my radar, and whilst it is meant to be knit in clear bold stripes - I'm working it in shopplwool. I've knit socks by this designer before, and have several on my to knit list, but squircle - where a square meets a circle - just seems the right sock for now.



For camp I thought it best to have a sample made and one half made. Lorna asked me to teach a weekend on sewing in zips to hand knits and suggested that the pencil case I had made some years back would be ideal as a project. I wrote the designer, Tom of Holland, via ravelry, and asked if there was a bulk discount for buying several copies for teaching - and he generously offered a very reasonable deal, which works out fantastic for the class.

Meanwhile in the background a black hat was knit, to match the school uniform of little cub. Accessories must be black, and she wanted a black thick hat with a deep turn up and a Pom Pom. I knit most of the hat, the deal was to be I would do the rib and she the hat - but some how most of it got knit after she went to bed. The yarn is Cleckheaton Country, and the pattern was inside the ball band - except we knit it in the round not flat. Little cub was horrified any one would knit a hat and seam it. Maybe my work there is done.

Anyway - I'm off to sort the evening meal and then curl up somewhere warm with the rest of my knitting. The conference was this one, and I really enjoyed it, the papers feed my intellect, I gave a paper on repair having looked at repairs in the textile collection of the local museum, including three darning samplers. The best of the fashion shows is IMO the ID emerging markets which is less commercial and more dramatic, video can be found here - for the curious. Details about the entrants and their collections here (scroll down to the ID international emerging designers section). My favorite was Donald Chung, winner was Steeve Hall - and the judges would have had a hard time deciding - it was universally exciting.

More soon, na stella


Friday, April 10, 2015


One of my growing research interests is repair, specifically mending of textiles, darning, patching, and other methods. Over the past few years I have sourced and read many books, articles and published research papers on mending, I find the most informative the instruction books from the early 20th century and back into the 19th century. Almost all of them advise that preventative measures, reinforcing worn areas before holes appear is the best method. Today I followed that advice. I have a pair of socks that do duty around house, and this morning I noticed a thin spot in the heel.

It was thin, but not yet a hole. There were thin threads marking each worn knit stitch - this meant I could use Swiss darning as the method of mending. When the knit fabric has worn through - other methods are required to replace the missing area.


I fetched my darning mushroom, this is a formal one, with a spring loaded metal clip to hold the fabric while the mend is made. Stretched over the darning mushroom the worn area is even more noticeable. And the felting of the fabric, this is superwash - and whist it won't felt when washing - the rubbing of wearing will cause the fabric to felt a little, unlike the felting that happens in the wash - this kind of felting happens with feet inside so the socks do t get any smaller. I think in some way the felting probably makes for a sturdier fabric - all those fibers tangled together must be more durable.

There is theory, the idea of what should be done, and there is practice, the doing. When. Worked together - theory informing practice the term praxis is used. My praxis was informed by theory - but I do need practice. Swiss darning over thin felted threads at a sock gauge (8 or so stitches per inch) is not as easy to do neatly as theory implies. Once this kind of sewing was part of many school curriculum, students were breaded on their mending, mine might not pass.

Still, the socks are mended, ready for a few more years of wear. I suspect the darn will feel like a soft lump under my heal but in time will soften and flatten till I no longer notice it. While my darning wouldn't win me any school prizes - it is serviceable, I finished the work by weaving the yarns back through the darned area as further reinforcing, and turned the sock inside out to see the inside, again the mend is visible, but I think neat. My Ravelry notes tell me these socks date from January of 2010, four years of near constant rotation in my sock drawer is a good lifespan, I will be interested to see how the repair performs.

Na stella


Sunday, April 05, 2015



it is Easter, and for us Easter looks like this, a Lindt bunny each (the new flavor this year was hazelnut - who knew? But I stuck with dark which I know and love), and three tablets of Shoc chocolate. WhitE chocolat and lemon, sea salt bittersweet, and coffee shot. Little girl cub got a suit of eggs flavored like cookies and cream and strawberry, elder boy club got an outer of snickers bars - which was even better than he asked for. He wanted 'just a few bars of chocolat as Easter eggs are hollow and not good value'. It is at times like this I am unsure if I have failed as a parent when my kids don't buy into Easter eggs as the only shape fit for Easter chocolate.

I spent a good bit of time knitting, M loaned me a set of DVDs for the original Poldark tv series, from th mid 1970's. All that knitting means the do use knit hat is now done. This was the stage it was at when I finished the first serries of DVDs. I was just about to start the decreases. At this stage I realized that the decreases were at four points every round and were causing a ladder where I I looped the long circular I was using. I decided I could use a crochet hook to work an extra column of stitches to fill the ladder once I beard to the top of the hat. In retrospect I could have simply shifted where divided the hat into front and back so the split didn't line up with the decreases. I didn't have laddering when working in the round, only when decreasing at the start of a needle.

Looping up an extra colum of stitches made the decreases more prominent, it tightened the knit fabric and created ribs, four on each side ( inside and outside), its a nice feature even if not what the designer intended. I know that blocking will make the fibers swell and that will cause the fabric to even out - I'm interested to see if that makes the ribs less prominent.

And just a final view of the inside/outside, being double knit there is no right side just two sides one the inverse of the other. It's. Generous hat, I knit th XL size, and it's a droopy hat on Bear, a new style for him. As a joke I offered to block it flat on a plate, and turn it into a beret. Bear's face seemed caught between two thoughts, one was 'how interesting - is that how a beret is formed', the other was 'bears don't wear berrets'. It was fun to watch, and he seemed relieved I admittd had no plans to turn it into a beret.

More soon, na Stella